Dance review: LA Dance Project
Edinburgh International Festival Scotsman review: LA Dance Project at the Playhouse, reviewed by Kelly Apter
This is the kind of show that gives contemporary dance a good name. A performance that recruits a few newcomers to the fold, loses them again, then wins them back – all in one evening. In short, it does everything contemporary dance set out to do all those years ago – to embrace and celebrate the wonder of movement, but to push boundaries, sometimes to within an inch of their lives.
Sandwiched in between two joyful, entertaining and accessible works by Benjamin Millepied and William Forsythe, Merce Cunningham’s Winterbranch hands you nothing on a plate. Mid-way through, a woman nearby me squeezed along the aisle apologising, “I’m sorry, I just can’t take any more.” A few boos at the end conveyed the same feeling.
Yet if you can go with it, rather than push against it, Cunningham’s piece has its own story to tell. Robert Rauschenberg’s lighting evokes the comings and goings of urban nigh time, with torch lights and beams sweeping past, sometimes picking out a dancer, sometimes not.
Winterbranch is a challenge not everyone is willing to take on, and fair enough. Millepied’s Moving Parts, however, demands little and delivers much. Cleverly constructed, easily digested, and performed with real technical prowess, it’s the kind of large-scale contemporary dance piece that just works, for everyone.
For a piece choreographed under the shadow of death (Forsythe’s wife was dying at the time), Quintett is full of life. A celebration of human existence, friendship and love, it also shows off the true worth of these excellent dancers.
Originally published in The Scotsman